Breakfast with Bombino

by ptinti


In late March, I grabbed coffee with Bombino, a Tuareg musician whose heavy blues riffs, blistering guitar solos, and energetic live shows have garnered international acclaim. A few days later, I caught him live in his hometown of Agadez, Niger. Here are some notes from our chat and a video from that performance.

AGADEZ, Niger — There is very little about the way in which Omara “Bombino” Moctar carries himself that would suggest he is a rock star. But Bombino isn’t like most rock stars.

When I met Bombino for breakfast at an upscale hotel in Niamey, the capital of his native Niger, Bombino arrived precisely on time. We met in the parking lot and claimed a place at the hotel restaurant.

In person, Bombino comes across as a gentle, unassuming guy. He punctuates sentences with a smile, rarely makes eye contact, and often breaks awkward silences with a giggle. It is a demeanor that seems to run counter to his official bio, which highlights a rebellious streak.

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